Archive for February, 2009

Epic fail

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I went to visit my grandparents on Sunday. They filled me with deep-fried goodness. French fries, onion rings, fried zucchini, fried mushrooms. On top of that, sadly un-fried pumpkin pie. I wanted to die. My body is not meant for such consumption. I am the kind of girl who would be extremely content eating sprouts and Pink Lady apples for the rest of her life. I should have been rolled home down the Pennsylvania turnpike. I was exceptionally full, and in fact still couldn’t eat yesterday. Therefore, there was no cooking in my house. Not a thing. Therefore I have no recipes, except for the recipe of self-destruction, which I am newly well-acquainted with and reads something like:

veggie burger + cheese + onions + mayo + ketchup + french fries + onion rings + fried zucchini + fried mushrooms + hot peppers + chunk of garlic + can of Coke (they don’t believe in drinking water, I don’t think) + pumpkin pie = stomach-clutching burping disgusting illness.

In book news, I finished Love Medicine (need I tell you it was great?) and started the Beet Queen (which, by the way, should probably be my middle name). I woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and tore through Adrian Tomine’s Scrapbooks, which I keep reminding myself to buy because it’s one of those “need to own” books.

I hardly ever ever ever talk about movies, but last night big brother and I went to see Wendy & Lucy and I felt like someone punched me in the stomach with a sadness punch. I can’t watch movies that make me this anxious. Yes, it was pretty, and yes, Michelle Williams is pretty much a babe and I think I’m going to have that hairstyle accidentally in about two days and yes movies about dogfriends break my heart, but oh my god, did I ever need a hug after it. Old Joy didn’t do this to me. I resent this lingering sadness feeling. Needin’ a hug. Needin’ a hug.

For the love of books

Friday, February 20th, 2009

I’ve referred before (and recently) to my obsessions with things small and large. This time, I’ve really done it.

As a wee lass, I read, adored, and quoted constantly, Jean Craighead George’s epic book My side of the mountain. It features my little hero Sam Gribley, who runs away from the big city life and with the help of a friendly small town librarian (in the movie, I should have been cast as this role), adapts successfully to LIFE IN THE WILD. He also has the help of a fierce and totally awesome peregrine falcon that he stole from a nest as a baby and trained to kill his small game for him. I’m paraphrasing, because my brain officially retires at 4:30 on Fridays, but let it be told that Frightful and Sam are amazing, and I decided I couldn’t live without Frightful for much longer.

baby girl

Frightful! In the flesh.

My burgeoning love of Louise Erdrich <3

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I don’t think it should come as a surprise to anyone that I can get mildly (or, uh, incredibly) obsessed with things/authors/directors/celebrities/series/people etc. I have a tremendous capacity for things like this. Say I discover an author. Let’s say, Ian Frazier. I read one book. I love it. I read another book of his. I love it. I think, “I have to read them all. OMG. Immediately.” So I start at the beginning. I read his first book. Then the next, the next, the next, and so on. I think about them, and conceptualize them, and talk incessantly to people who don’t care about how much his writing style has changed/hasn’t changed, how he loves Ojibwe Indians more/less than in the beginning, etc. I get so fucking consumed by the things that I love! I think this might be an endearing trait, but I’m not sure yet.

Basically, my new obsession is Louise Erdrich. Again, probably not surprising. Upon finishing Plague of Doves, I decided I had to read them all. So, in true “me” style, I’m starting at the beginning, with Love Medicine. 132 pages in, I’m so thankful there’s a family tree laid out at the start of the book. I really love this woman. This new love, it’s going to be bad. I can tell.

Also, weekend comic/graphic novel readings:

  • Julie Doucet-Long time relationship
  • Leanne Shapton-Was she pretty (neither of these was as remotely romantic as they sound)
  • Seth-It’s a good life, if you don’t weaken (adored this!)

Weekend non-comic reading that I am embarrassed to admit:

Coffee at Luke’s: an unauthorized Gilmore Girls gabfest (this isn’t even remotely good. Not at all. It’s fucking stupid, and annoying, and I hate 80% of the authors. I could barely get through this book.)

Sweet potato curry-Foodie February

Monday, February 16th, 2009

I eat a lot of fall-back meals, things that I make just because I have the ingredients handy (no trips to the store!) and because I know they’re fast and delicious.  I found the recipe for this sweet potato curry two years ago in an old issue of Vegetarian Times, and I had to make it, because it featured three of my favorite foods: sweet potatoes, ginger and lime juice.  Every time I make it, it turns out differently.  I don’t know why.  This is good in the winter or the summer, which I appreciate in a staple meal.


large sweet potato (I use two, or three.  What the heck.), 1 tbs. minced ginger (or more, because ginger is my favorite), 1 jalapeño minced, 1 tsp. curry powder or paste (whichever you have handy), 1/2 C vegetable broth (you will need more if you use more sweet potatoes), 3/4 C orange juice, 1/4 C peanut butter, 1 tbs. brown sugar, 1 tsp. tamarind paste (here is where I sub 2 squeezed limes), 1/2 tsp. salt (as with all recipes, I omit the salt), 2 C cooked brown rice


Peel & cube potatoes.  Sauté potatoes in medium skillet for a minute or so, then add ginger and jalapeño.  Stir in curry powder/paste, cook for another minute.  Add broth, cover, lower heat to medium-low-ish and let simmer for ten minutes.

While simmering, it’s time to make the curry sauce.  Whisk the OJ, the peanut butter, brown sugar, and tamarind/many limes.  After the ten minutes are up, add to the sweet potatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the sauce thickens (8-10 minutes).  Serve over rice.

I have no pictures of this, and I know I’ve been promising pictures of the beets, but here’s the thing.  Last night, I may or may not have crashed OMC’s hard-drive.  This is a very, very, very bad thing, and in addition to maybe having fucked up his dissertation and some job letters and a post-doc application, I also might have forever lost the pictures.  So, basically, I suck.

On the hunt

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

It is so frustrating to, upon tracking down the perfect book via countless reviews and blogs, etc, discover that the book, the PERFECT next brand-spankin’ new book to read, that everyone from the NYer to Salon has loved, has 51 holds on it at the public library. And I am number 52.  Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.

Also, I am on the quest for purple suede boots. I think it’s my destiny to have purple suede boots. Flat ones. I don’t care about the toe. I just want them to be purple, and mid-calf-ish, and comfy. And awesome.

(I keep forgetting to post the beet pictures. I PROMISE that I will, tonight.)

Weekend readings!

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Sometimes I finish a book and am totally relieved. Done! Done! No more of whatever nonsense irritated me about the book. Sometimes, like on Saturday, I finish a book and am immensely depressed. I woke up ultra-early on Saturday and finished Plague of Doves. Upon finishing it, I immediately thought, “I will never read a book this good. Ever again.” This is a sad notion, because I obviously love to read, and have like 176 books in my mental queue of things to read. It took me awhile to piece the book together, and honestly, at first I wasn’t into it at all, but was giving it a chance based on the praise from several people. HOWEVER. I am so glad I finished it. Louise Erdrich is, and I don’t really need to tell you this, a master wordsmith. The level of detail in this book is phenomenal. It kind of blew me away. My only complaint is: what the hell do I follow this up with? Nothing will be as good, as delicate, as arresting. I tried to start Lady Oracle (by her majesty, Margaret Atwood [I realized last week that I hadn't read this book, which was surprising, because I've read everything else by Atwood in a quasi-serious attempt to understand the genius that is her brain]), but I just couldn’t get into it. I keep thinking about Pluto, North Dakota. You should too.

Because I can read comics/graphic novels when nothing else stays in my brains, this weekend I resorted to an old friend: Paul Hornschemeier*. I adore Hornschemeier, and while we’re not actually friends (I tend to call my idols/celebrities “friends” or “lovers” or “boyfriends”, which they obviously aren’t, although, hey, wishful thinking), he’s wise and funny in the most droll (and pretty) way. Mother, come home will make you cry if you have a heart, and probably even if you don’t. Yesterday I re-read Let us be perfectly clear, which can simultaneously make me giggle and want to bawl. I can’t claim to be an art critic, but the breadth of his drawing styles is almost unbelievable. Next up: I must re-read the three paradoxes.

I must also beg my brain to let me read fiction again. Where to start, though.

*BTW: I quickly googled Hornschemeier to double-check a book title, and found his blog, which had a side-link to his myspace, which I looked at it because a small part of me is a creeper, and there is a picture of him on Penn Ave out front of the Brillobox. My entire being just shriveled up and died. I’m not sure why. SMALL WORLD.

Beets! And ‘roni! (Foodie February)

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

A lot of people I know procrastinate in the following way.  They sit down, pretend to start to work, glance around, think, “Oh.  I should really clean that _______.”  I am not this way, largely only because I’m already morosely fastidious.  No, I sit down, pretend to work and think, “Huh.  I should really make a _____ from that _____ cookbook.”  I had a ton of reading to do this weekend.  I’m talking three full-length books.  This is a lot of reading for someone in a program like my own.  Take my word for it.

I sat down yesterday, prepared to dig into the fascinating debate that is library as place vs. library as space, when I thought, “Damn.  I want to eat beets.”  I love beets because they do questionable things to my body, and also because they are delicious, and also because it’s fun to run around my house screaming, chasing OMC and the dog with “bloody” fingers.  I also love the Moosewood Cookbook, because after I eat anything from it I feel like a super hero.  Additionally, I went to the Moosewood restaurant this summer (it’s in Ithaca) and had one of the best meals of my entire life, therefore I love to cook from it in the hopes that I am, too, a cooking virtuoso.

The following is Moosewood’s Odessa Beets recipe.  You could eat them plain, or on a sammie, or stuff ‘em in a baked acorn squash (which is what I did, with yummy results).

6 beets, 2-3 tbs. lemon juice, 10 prunces (pitted & thinly diced), 3 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/2 tsp salt (I usually omit salt), black pepper (I omit this too), 1/2 C. walnuts, chopped, 1 C. finely chopped pineapple

Oven to 400.  Wrap the beets in foil and bake until tender (45 minutesish).  Rinse under cold water and rub off the skins (this will get you “bloody” fingers!  Yay!).  Grate ‘em.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix.  Chill.  Here I opted to stuff them in my squashes.  I have pictures, but I’m using OMC’s computer & testing his patience, therefore I’ll have to post them tomorrow.

Like I said, there was lots of procrastinating happening this weekend.  Thus, this afternoon, pretending to read about collections development (gag me with a fucking spoon), I thought, “Hm.  Baked macaroni would be the jam tonight.”  (I probably didn’t actually think with those exact words, because I am not as big a tool as that sentence would have you believe).  Fortunately, Moosewood has a fantastic baked macaroni recipe:

1/2 lb. dry pasta (I used macaroni), 2 tbs. butter, 2 C. chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1/2 lb. mushrooms (sliced), 4 C. shredded cabbage, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. carraway seed (I forgot these.  Didn’t make a difference.), 1 bunch spinach, 2 C. cottage cheese, 1/2 C. buttermilk/yogurt, 2 Tbs. fresh dill (actually, use more than that, because dill is fantastic), pepper to taste, 2 C. shredded cheddar, handful of sunflower seeds.

Oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Cook the pasta.  Drain, transfer to large bowl.  Melt butter in large skillet (seriously, an epic skillet is necessary), add the onions.  Saute for 5 mins, add garlic, mushrooms, cabbage, (I added broccoli here too, you could add whatever veggies you want to get rid of), salt & carraway.  Stir, cover, cook ’til cabbage is limp & tender.  Stir in spinach and remove from heat.  Mix with the pasta.  Add cottage cheese, buttermilk/yogurt, dill, pepper & half the cheese.  Spread in pan.  Add remaining cheese & seeds, bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  Drink with a glass of beer.  Again, I’ll add pics tomorrow.

I realize I look like a little piggie, but get over it.  Leftovers!

My accidental hangover.

Friday, February 6th, 2009

I had a shitty day at work yesterday. This is nothing new. Libraries are hurtin’ and things are weird at most workplaces, I’d imagine. I tried to go shopping to cheer myself up, but it didn’t work. I got a new yoga mat, but was otherwise TOO DEPRESSED TO SHOP. This is a painful declaration.

Since shopping didn’t work, I thought, “Oh, I’ll get a fancy six-pack from D’s. Fancy beer always cheers me up.” OMC picked 3 beers, and I picked 3 beers, and we were high-tailing out of the cave when I noticed a big ol’ jug of Dogfish Head Fort. I’ve never had the Fort, and I am mysteriously a sucker for fruity beer (I know, I know, pathetic), and the label art was kind of tempting, and the promise of raspberry beer was oh so exciting. I made puppy eyes at OMC (he HATES fruit beers) and we bought it, deciding we’d split it when we got to his house.

Once home, in my sweatpants, making scrambled fucking eggs for dinner (the dinner of the depressed), half a glass of Fort in my belly, talkin’ the “how was your day” talk, OMC looks at me and says “Lainers, are you DRUNK?” This couldn’t be! Half a glass of beer making me drunk? I don’t claim to have the stomach of a frat boy, but I can kind of hold my own in the drink. Convinced that I couldn’t already be drunk, I kept drinking the Fort. The thing is, I wasn’t even really enjoying it, but it was like $12 and in these tough economic times there are children in Asia who would kill for my beer, so I kept drinking it. And drinking it. And on top it, a Bell’s Best Brown Ale (which was, for the record, great, and also, did you know that you have to claim to be 21 to look at their website? Dumb. A toddler could push “yes” and gain access to this website. What a joke). Around 10, standard bedtime, I am thinking “Sheesh, I’m wiped out. Bedtime.” So I collapse into bed, thinking nothing of it.

Here’s where my story takes a nasty turn. At 4, I woke up to pee. I have the bladder of a baby and pee constantly. Deal with it. Maybe I’m diabetic. Who knows. Point is, I staggered to the bathroom with the room spinning. While getting up to pee is not unusual for me, STAGGERING IS. SPINNING SURE IS. Oh my god. I was drunk. I didn’t mean to be drunk. Oh my god. I got back in bed and kind of giggled to myself. Whoopsie.

So, now, I have a killer hangover. I accidentally got trashed and didn’t know it. A little careful googling and I discover that that frickin’ Fort was 18% alcohol, and is best enjoyed in SMALL FUCKING DOSES with dessert or in a hot tub or something. What a let down. My gray sweatsuit is so not romantic.

Also I kind of want this book but Sam Calagione edited it and he also made that beer that got me staggerin’ to the bathroom. So we’re not really on the best of terms, even though I adore every other Dogfish Head except for the Raison d’etre, which is disappointing, although fun to hear “Snaggletooth” pronounce (sorry!).

I am writing a reading list. For a class I’m not allowed to teach.

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

I assigned myself a reference question that I have, ultimately, little to do with. This is because I am a dork, and also because I am a little nosy. OMC is writing a syllabus for a year-long ethnography course and is trying to pick the books he would teach in it. I, naturally, flipped out at the chance to help (although it must be said, he didn’t technically ask for my help). I live for questions like this on the reference desk. A question like this gives me the chance to play with my beloved Library of Congress subject headings (LCSH). Subject headings can be positively joyous to use in a reference interview, although simultaneously problematic in that they are historically kind of racist, sexist and homophobic, but that is not the focus of this blog entry, although ought to be in the future (also, really great catalogers are working to remedy this every single day).

I had a few books off the top of my head that I would consider ethnographic, and that I would teach if I were OMC:

Marjorie Shostak’s Nisa: the life and words of a !Kung Woman (I want OMC to teach this because that ! is pronounced as a tongue cluck, and sitting in on this lecture would crack my shit up because he has an unbelievable amount of trouble doing the cluck. Also this is, like, standard issue cultural anthropology 101. I don’t know anything at all about anthropology but I know that this book is incredible, and that it taught me a ton about PMS in places other than America/western countries. It also taught me about having a baby in the bush. Which I don’t want to do.)

Telipit Ole Saitoti’s World’s of a Masai Warrior: an autobiography (I hesitate to put this on my booklist because that already means there will be two ethnographic books about African countries, and I don’t want the focus of this course to be too heavily skewed towards any one demographic, but alas, this book is equally great, and also horrified the shit out of 17 year-old me when Telipit gets circumcised and writes about it in terrifying detail.)

Philippe Bourgois’ In Search of Respect: Selling crack in El Barrio. (Sometimes in my brain I make a list of the people that I would write letters to if I had the time. These are people that I would write letters to simply because I admire them, and think that they’re doing wonderful, admirable things, and also that I want to grow up and be a little like them. I would give my foot to study with Bourgois at Penn. I am that impressed by him. This book changed my life. I don’t say this lightly. It has to be on an ethnographic syllabus. Also, Bourgois has a 26-page long CV. My CV is maybe a paragraph long. I need to write him a letter. And learn to be an anthropologist so I can study with him at Penn. Which leads me to wonder if I can convince OMC to shrug off his morals to let me take his classes so I can get credit in Anthropology. He won’t.)

So those are the books that I am POSITIVE have to be on the syllabus. I’m having some trouble weeding out ethnography/enthnology titles via LCSH. There are 1008 titles that are probably really great JUST AT MY LIBRARY. Imagine what we don’t have that’s amazing. Oh my god. My brain is exploding a little bit. I want to write a syllabus so badly.

I am convinced (by table of contents, LCSH, etc) that the following titles must also be on the syllabus:

Dangerous encounters : genealogy and ethnography, edited by Maria Tamboukou & Stephen J. Ball (this book has a chapter on drug treatment clinics! Neat!!!)

Gray areas : ethnographic encounters with nursing home culture, edited by Philip B. Stafford (unusual! Weird! Fun! Depressing.)

Frank Schaap’s The words that took us there : ethnography in a virtual reality (this is about gamers, and Dungeons & Dragons, and if you know OMC, you know that this book will be taught in DISGUSTING DETAIL)

I have about 600 additional titles (literally) to weed through, but if you have any suggestions, lay ‘em on me. I am writing the best syllabus ever that is not my responsibility to write.

The items contained in this entry might forever shatter your perceptions of me. And I’m okay with that.

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

When I think about why I have no free time ever, I consider the fact that I have many unmistakably shallow pursuits. A few weeks ago, I changed my Facebook About Me to say: “I’m kind of really into unicorns, trashy vampire books, obnoxious accessories, Lisa Frank and gossip. AKA: I am 9 years old at heart.” This is my About Me, people. My public face to the WORLD, or the 600-some acquaintances I once deemed important enough to be my “friend.” My sixth grade boyfriend (who I never technically broke up with, and have therefore been committing adultery on since 1996) knows that I like VAMPIRE BOOKS. Trashy ones, at that! My logic professor from sophomore year (self-proclaimed “sexy logician”) might be aware that I like unicorns. I can’t say that I’m embarrassed people know that I like Lisa Frank, because I seriously have no shame whatsoever (and Lisa Frank is, excuse the pun, frankly kind of awesome), but I am a little aghast that this is what I spend my free time on. GOSSIP. Things I should have stopped liking in the 8th grade. Pony websites! Puppy websites!

I have been both a bad blogger and reader in the past week. I took two sick days last week and laid on my couch feeling pathetic, and desperately wishing that the New Yorker that I’d left in OMC’s car wasn’t so far away (aka in the car, two flights of steps away from his third floor apartment). I tried to get back in the reading game over the weekend, but there was a lil football game occupying my time and my mind. BTW, go SIXBURGH. I wanted to get some reading done last night, but when I sat down to read I couldn’t stop touching my hair. I have any number of bad, harmful habits that I won’t disclose for the sake of preserving my integrity to anonymous readers because these habits make me look absolutely batshit crazy. I will disclose, however, that when in class and while reading, I constantly touch my hair. I twirl it into little loops and try to tie it in knots and little twisty things and I try desperately to braid it. I am growing my hair out, and am in the dangerous state of growth that I fondly think of as “mad-scientist hair,” and as a result, I cannot stop touching the new length. Then I sometimes imagine, while reading, that I’ve stumbled onto some new fabulous hairstyle that I need to examine immediately in the mirror, and as a result, well, I can’t get any reading done. I want to tell you about Plague of Doves, because it’s GORGEOUS, but I cannot stop touching my goddamn hair.

For that aforementioned football game, I made banana cupcakes with dark chocolate icing (get it, black and gold?!). I probably ate too many of them. I didn’t take a picture because my camera is dead. I need to get back in the baking game, but school + work + being shallow can be really time-consuming.

Can I add, too, that now that football season is over, it is time for some motherfucking NCAA hoops? Holy shit. I am torn in two with love for both Jermaine Dixon and DeJuan Blair. My passion for Pitt basketball: it’s out of this world.

OH MY GOD. How could I forget. My newest shallow pursuit: Gossip Girl. I have only watched four episodes, and I kind of HATE IT, but I am completely unable to prevent myself from watching it. It’s like a terrible train-wreck dressed in amazing clothes, and I want out. It’s not good! It’s disturbing and horrible! But alas, I am hooked.


Shallow Girl.